Friday, November 29, 2013

Let's Get Some Macarons in Victoria BC!

Victoria is a fairly small city, but it is always nice to see something nice. I came across the Bon Macaron on my last day there and had to give them a try. They are located right downtown at 1012 Broad St, Victoria BC V8W 2A1, if you are interested in dropping by.

 Macarons must be fairly new to the sweets scene in Victoria because as I walked in, they asked me if I had ever tried a macaron before. While I have chronically misspelled the word "macaron" in the past, I have tried them once or twice... ;)

This time around, I went for four sweet flavors: Stawberry, "Pearamel", and Dulce de Leche. All were good, but the "pearamel" stood out: strong flavors of ripe pear with a little caramel mixed in for a slightly salty addition. The pear flavor here reminds me of how pear flavored foods taste in Sweden. The other two were also excellent renditions of their classic flavors: The Dulce de Leche was a homage to the flavors I had while in South America and the strawberry was a lighter sweet version. Overall, very good.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Let's Fly on a Seaplane to Victoria BC!

Victoria BC is a popular day or weekend trip from Seattle. The provincial capital (literally, the capital of British Columbia) is a beautiful city and is the gateway to Vancouver Island and Vancouver city for many travelers. It is a small, walkable city with family friendly attractions and decent transit options for getting out to the attractions that are a little further out, such as Buchart Gardens.

There are a couple different way to get to Victoria from Seattle. There is the Victoria Clipper for foot passengers, the car friendly Black Ball Line from Port Angeles, and automobile ferries from either Anacortes or Tsawwassen in BC. I have taken all of these, but there are two more options: You can fly from Seatac into Victoria airport (located to the north of the city) or... you can fly in style on a seaplane into the inner harbor itself with Kenmore Air.

If you are looking to make the journey, here are a couple helpful links to your options (All estimates are just that: estimates):

  1. Kenmore Air (Seaplanes from Lake Union in Seattle)
    • 45 minutes, ~$135 to Victoria and $159 to Seattle (~$295 round trip), passenger only.
  2. Victoria Clipper (Fast Foot Ferry from Seattle Waterfront)
    • 2.75 hours, $88 one way or $140 round trip ($107 with advance purchase, passenger only.
  3. Black Ball Line Ferry (Auto Ferry from Port Angeles)
    • 4.5 hours (2 hours, plus 2-2.5 hours by car from Seattle), ~$150 round trip ($34 round trip for a passenger, $87 round trip for a car, $13.55 for Seattle to Bainbridge Island with a car, plus gas).
  4. WSDOT Ferries (Auto Ferry from Anacortes)
    • 4.5-5 hours (2.75 hours, plus 1.5-2 hours from Seattle), $81 round trip (plus gas)
  5. BC Ferries (Auto Ferry from BC)
    • 4.5-5.5 hours (1.5 hours, plus 3 hours drive from), $125 round trap (plus gas)

I had never tried Kenmore Air and when the opportunity came up to fly this time around, I jumped on it. Kenmore Air is a small nearly seaplane only airline that flies out of Lake Union and into the Victoria Harbor. Prices right now are about $135 each way for the short 45 minute minute flight, which is just about double the fare of the Victoria Clipper. The disadvantage with Kenmore Air besides price is that you are limited to very little in the way of luggage (about 10kg). However, in many ways it's a better deal overall: Not only does it take less time (about 2 hours faster), but there is less hassle checking in and waiting for your trip to start. Oh, and the views. Flying low over the Puget Sound is amazing!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Product Review: Clever Travel Companion Underwear with Hidden Pockets

About a month ago, I found out about a company called Clever Travel Companion. They offer a variety of "pick pocket proof" clothing that is geared towards the avid traveler. Pick pockets are usually one of the top fears for travelers and some of the other options out there, like the undershirt neck pouch, can be a bit of a hassle. This seems like it would be a good mix and I am all about supporting small companies when I can. The fact that the people running it are original from Sweden as far as I can tell also doesn't hurt...


I ended up with a pair of the men's and a pair of the women's for my girlfriend. The underwear features a button fly and two pockets on either side. The pockets are large enough to be useful (for example, they fit passports perfectly), but not too large as to get in the way of anything. The fabric feels pretty good and would be durable on a longer trip.

The Good Stuff & Around Town

To try them out, I loaded up the pockets and headed out on a trip to Victoria, BC via Kenmore Air. If they were going to end up being uncomfortable, a quick flight on a seaplane and walking around with a backpack would probably do the trick. After a half of walking around with the backpack and a full day of running around Victoria, I am happy to say that overall they remained comfortable without the zipper pulls poking anywhere or the pockets clumping awkwardly (as I had feared might happen). Retrieving items from a pocket was slightly tricky, but these are security pockets. In real life, you would excuse yourself to a restroom and then get what you need out of your, yes, pick pocket proof underwear pocket.

I also have it on good authority that the women's version is equally comfortable, although I don't have direct experience with that... The purple color is a nice and the pockets are the same size as the men's. 

The Feedback

The only complaint that I had was the fit was a little bit off. It wasn't enough to make them uncomfortable, but it does feel like they could be made to be a little more snug around the waist with a little extra tailoring. On the other hand, it is equally possible that sizing down one size may have addressed my issue.

Final Say

As I mentioned, my issue may be simply that I got the wrong size. If the waist band was a little tighter, it would have been a comfortable and functional for keeping important documents safe and sound. The thicker cotton is soft and remains comfortable throughout the day. Not bad! And it's just in time for the holiday season, if you're trying to find something to give the avid traveler in your life...

Thursday, November 07, 2013